Nintendo's decision to dump chipmaker Mips in favour of IBM and ArtX for its next generation console Dolphin is set to revive a simmering legal battle.
While Mips was competing for the coveted microprocessor spot in Dolphin, it put the threat of a lawsuit against graphics chip start-up ArtX on hold. Ex-employees of SGI the parent company of Mips, formed ArtX.
The announcement that Mips has been knocked back by Nintendo in favour of ArtX (PC Dealer, 26 May) has led to SGI sources claiming the lawsuit could be revived.
Last year, SGI and Mips threatened ArtX with several lawsuits, including misappropriated trade secrets, engaging in unfair competition, breaching contract and interfering with prospective economic advantage. The action led to rumours that Nintendo, would not risk an alliance with ArtX.
However, Mips was left smarting last week after the E3 show when Nintendo announced it will use an IBM processor to power Dolphin, and that the second key chip will be a graphics engine designed by ArtX. Mips designed the graphics processor and the main microprocessor used in the Nintendo 64.
The original suit alleged that ArtX had infringed its intellectual property. It named Wei Yen, chief executive of ArtX, and its technology guru, Tim Van Hook.
Yen, who founded ArtX, was senior vice president of SGI and guided its Nintendo operation.Van Hook also worked at SGI and was a key architect for the Nintendo 64 platform.
But the suit was suspended in May last year. At the time, ArtX had agreed to work with Nintendo to select a chip manufacturer for the next generation console. Mips was a candidate for the contract.
Representatives from SGI, Mips and ArtX refused to comment.
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